August 29, 2015

Bois de Boulogne

The Bois de Boulogne is a large Parisian park found on the city limits. It is twice as big as New York’s Central Park, and yet Parisian’s love to complain about the city’s lack of green space (maybe because if it’s not found in the center it counts less?).

Regardless, the Parisians do love their outdoor space and most weekends the bois is packed with families, friends, and dogs, picnicking, biking, or even rowing around.

Le Bois de Boulogne

On this particular Saturday I had gone to the bois alone to get my fill of Vitamin D and catch up on some reading.

After sufficiently soaking in the sun’s rays, I was walking home, still very much in the park, but a bit separated from the merry makers, when a twentysomething French woman approached me.

Expecting her to ask for directions and feeling proud that, as someone who lives near the park and has spent a good amount of time there, I would be able to guide her, she caught me a little off guard when she asked,

Excusez-moi? Bonjour… so I really need to pee and I was wondering if I went behind this bush, if you wouldn’t mind watching out to make sure nobody goes by?"

“Ah,” I chuckled, fully understanding her predicament, as France is notorious for it’s lack of public bathrooms, “bien sûr, pas de soucis (of course, no worries).” I smiled.

The Eiffel Tower is even visible from the bois.

We walked over to the secluded bush. I turned around to watch for passerbys while she presumably walked behind the bush to take care of business.

It turned out that my presence wasn’t necessary; nobody came close to where we were. There was one man, however, who started off down the path towards us, found a different bush a ways off, saddled on up to it, and promptly started peeing.

I guess I was unknowingly walking down the chemin de pipi (pee trail).


On a side note, there ARE public bathrooms in the Bois de Boulogne that are also free of charge in the jardin de Shakespeare, so don't feel obligated to urinate publically. Considering the park is so big, you might want to plan ahead to give yourself enough time to get there, though.

May 30, 2015

Public Displays of Affection

Compared to America, the French are very pro-PDA. Nobody thinks twice if a couple is canoodling on the metro, or exchanges a quick kiss on the lips for a greeting.

I am a supporter of PDA. I like to partake in cuddling and even small kisses in front of friends or strangers on the street.

That said, I was forced to observe a little bit too much PDA the other day on the metro. This was one of those metro rides where the car is packed and you are sort of stuck looking in a certain direction.

I had a couple right in front of me, and it started out all right. They were holding hands, putting their arms around each other, all in all pretty tame.

Until, with horror, I saw this young man lean forward towards his girlfriend’s face, mouth open, going for a kiss, tongue first.

Then both tongues were out, touching, right in front of my face.

And I thought to myself, “man, the French are a little too okay with PDA.”

March 3, 2015


An important part of any job search is networking, which is unfortunate, as I am terrible at it.

After a time spent responding to job announcements, I finally decided to accept the fact that sustainable development is a niche field where most available jobs are only on the hidden market and put myself out there.

Luckily, living in Paris means lots of conferences open to the public on the subject of sustainable development. I signed myself up for one, and even though I tried to arrive early on the day of, I inevitably got lost.

As soon as I took a seat next to two normal looking women, the introductory speaker began the conference. Despite trying to smile and introduce myself, I was met with unfriendly vibes.

Conference at the Ministère de l'écologie, du développement durable, et de l'énergie.

I spent most of that first session thinking about how stupid conferences are for networking seeing as if you sit next to two unfriendly people you basically just waste the entire day.

The conference broke for lunch, and I broke down in tears.

I fought the urge to simply go home, and accepted the fact that I was a big networking failure who hadn't even networked enough to find a group of people to eat with.

I began searching the near by restaurants for vegetarian options. Walking into an overly crowded pizza place, I saw the lady who was seated in front of me during the conference.

I took a second to gather up my courage and then asked, “vous étiez à la conference, n’est pas? Je pense que vous étiez assise devant moi,” (Weren’t you at the conference? I think you were seated in front of me).

Ah oui tout à fait! Voulez-vous manger avec nous?” (Yes I was! Would you care to eat with us?) she replied.

I was in!

I had a very nice lunch with the lady and her colleague, but somehow only managed to get the contact information from one of them.

After lunch, I took a seat elsewhere in the amphitheater and this time was able to converse with my neighbors, also getting their contact information.

While I wasn't a complete failure, I wasn't exactly a networking super star either.

Hopefully I'll get better as time goes on, although so far each new conference has been just as stressful as the last.

It doesn't hurt that some conferences are held in beautiful buildings such as this one (Hotel de Lassay).

February 5, 2015


I was lucky enough to get to go back home to California for two weeks during the winter holidays.

Christmas à la plage.

I made sure to only put really light weight objects on my x-mas wish list and asked my parents to not gift me anything too heavy, as I was hoping to use the return flight as an opportunity to bring more of my belongings to France.

As luck would have it, the gifts that I brought to CA with me far outweighed the gifts I received (why are wine bottles so freaking heavy?), and left me with some space to bring back beloved objects that up till now were residing in my parents’ garage.

I brought back some old journals, some clothes, my Ewok stuffed animal, and a ridiculous amount of DVDs.

Since the first time I moved to France, I’ve been treating my parents’ house like a Blockbuster. I have a CD case holder that I fill up with DVDs that I then I change out every time I go home.

My Ewok, books, and movie rental hardware.

This year, however, I got some DVDs for Christmas that I didn’t necessarily want to take up space in my special DVD trading case; I decided to take my French film DVDs back to France to share them with the French boyfriend; and I also wanted to borrow my Dad’s DVDs of the original Star Wars films as it’d been too long since I’d seen them and scandalously, the French boyfriend hasn’t seem them since he was a child.

All in all, I brought back a lot of DVDs and left some other treasured objects behind.

Now it’s important to note that Europe and North America are in different zones for DVDs. This means that a DVD made for viewing in America is considered a “zone 1” DVD, and can only be played by North American “zone 1” DVD players*. France, along with the rest of Europe, is in “zone 2.”

This has never been a problem as my computer is from America, and therefore plays zone 1 DVDs. For French DVDs, we use French boyfriend's French computer. Everything works out dandily.

Except that as soon as I got back to France, my laptop’s DVD drive stopped working.

So much for that.

*Apparently DVD players exist now-a-days that can play both zones, but unemployed me is a little too tight on money to purchase one. Also, I’m not sure I believe them.

January 28, 2015

Pole Emploi

The reason most people sign up with pole emploi, the unemployment office, is because they are getting chomage, or unemployment benefits, which are only accessible via this government body. Sadly, having a stage (internship) doesn’t qualify one for chomage, and so I didn’t immediately sign up. However recent graduates frequently do register despite the lack of monetary benefits.

While they do have a service that helps one search for jobs, the types of jobs that I’m interested in weren't usually advertised on pole emploi and so I’d been using other services.

Luckily, a friend of mine told me that if I’d sign up at pole emploi to declare myself à la recherche d’emploi (looking for work), I would receive an unemployment card that would give me free access to most of Paris’ lovely museums.

Suddenly dealing with French bureaucracy seemed worth it.

After signing up online, I received an appointment for about two weeks later to go to the pole emploi offices closest to me.

Knowing how these things go thanks to all my trips to the Prefecture, I brought the documents that pole emploi asked for (ID, pay stubs, CV), plus every other sort of document they could possibly need from me (copy of my birth certificate, proof of having graduated from a French institution, etc.).

I also brought along reading material to keep me busy for at least an entire afternoon, and I showed up to my appointment about ten minutes early.

There was a very, very long line for the accueil (welcome desk) for people without an appointment, and a relatively short line for people with one. Arriving at the front of the line right when my appointment was supposed to start, I signed in without a hitch.

I found an empty chair, sat down, and was starting to pull a magazine out of my tote bag, when my name was called to go back and meet my counselor!

Not only were they super prompt, but my counselor was super friendly, didn’t need random documents that weren’t listed on the official documents list, spent time looking over my general CV and cover letter, and despite confirming that they don’t receive many job offers for the work I’m interested in, gave me a lovely packet full of tips for people in my field.

My crumpled up pass that I keep in my wallet for emergency museum visits

She also gave me my get-into-museums-free pass, and I have been using it up a storm.
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